Ghana At a glance
Until its independence from British Colonial rule on 6th March, 1957, Ghana was called the “Gold Coast” a name given it by early Portuguese explorers who first set foot on the shores of the country in the fifteenth century.
The name aptly describes the country’s wealth in gold and natural resources, which include to the present day:
- Rich mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, manganese, bauxite, iron ore and various clay and salt deposits
- Extensive, rich forests with a wide range of fine tropical hardwoods.
- A wide variety of agricultural products and rich fishing resources.
- Unique tourist attractions, including beautiful landscapes, inviting sunshine, golden beaches, wildlife parks, the country-side with its rich cultural heritage and the proverbial warmth and hospitality of the people, parliament house.
- During various periods from the time the Portuguese discovered gold in 1471 to independence in 1957, the monarchs of several European kingdoms, notably Denmark, England, Holland, Prussia and Sweden, sent hordes of explores and merchants to the country for its abundant wealth, both natural and human.
- They battled for supremacy and control over the land and built forts and castles which also served as trading posts. Vestiges of the extent of European colonial presence and concentration of activities in the country are evidenced by the fact that 29 of the 32 European colonial forts and castles dotted along the coast of West Africa are in Ghana.
Ghana is located on the West Coast of Africa about 750km north of the equator on the Gulf of Guinea, between the latitudes of 4 – 11.5º North. The capital, Accra, is on the Greenwich Meridian [zero line of longitude] The country has a total land area of 238,537 Km² and is bounded on the north by Burkina Faso, on the West by Cote d’Ivoire , on the East by Togo and on the South by the Gulf of Guinea.
The land area stretches for 672 Km north-south and 536 Km east-west.
Ghana has a tropical climate, characterized most of the year by moderate temperatures generally 21°C to 33°C (70°F – 90°F), constant breeze and sunshine. There are two rainy seasons, from March to July and September to October, separated by a short cool dry season in August and a relatively long dry season in the South from mid-October to March.
The population of Ghana is estimated to be 22 million. In 2000 it was 20.2 million [source; Ghana Statistical service, 2001 estimate] currently, the country’s population is growing by 2.5 per cent annually. At the same time the total fertility rate has declined from 5.5 per woman in 1995 to 4.5 by 2000.
Languages; Ghana’s principal ethnic groups are the Akan [Twi and Fante speaking] the Guans, Ewes, Gas, Gonjas, Dagabas, Walas and Frafras. There are 56 Ghanaian dialects of which Akwapim Twi, Asante Twi, Fante, Ga-Adangbe, Ewe, Kasem Gonja, Dagbani and Nzema are the major languages. The official language of the country is English. French and Hausa are two major foreign languages spoken in the country.
The population of Ghana comprises Christians [43%] Animists [38%] and Muslims [12%]. There is complete freedom of religion in Ghana.